After a long wait, BMW debuted the new 2019 Z4 last month, showing off the roadster in M40i form. The M40i isn't a full on M car, but rather, an "M Performance" model like the M240i, which sits a rung under the M2. Unfortunately, there won't be a hotter Z4 than the M40i.
Last week at the premiere of , we got a chance to talk with BMW R&D head Klaus Fröhlich, sneaking in a few questions about the Z4. He explained why a Z4 M isn't at the cards right now.
"At the moment this segment is very small, and I had to fight hard to make the [new Z4] happen at all, honestly," Frohlich said. "It was against the finance controllers.
"But you should drive it. It is sensational," he assured us.
Based on Z4 prototypes from those lucky to get a chance behind the wheel, it seems like Fröhlich isn't lying. And with that the Z4 M40i should make around 380 horsepower in the US, we might not need a full-on M version.of
And, of course, we asked if the Z4 would get a manual transmission. Fröhlich implied he'd be open to the possibility if there was demand, but that seems unlikely. The sports-car market it small, so BMW probably doesn't want to invest in giving the Z4 a manual, when it likely wouldn't sell many. For comparison, Porsche sells a fair number of manual sports cars—especially in the US—but a Jaguar spokesperson told me last year that the take rate for three-pedal F-Types was just three percent. So, expect ZF eight-speed autos all the way for BMW's roadster.
Some might be disappointed by all this news, but there's no need, since BMW M already offers a small car with a manual transmission—it's called the M2.